April 11, 2024

Defendant Joseph Washington Pleads to 3 Counts of 1st Degree Murder and 1 Count of Obstruction of Justice in Devastating Triple Murder

NEW ORLEANS, LA – In a case that sent shockwaves of sorrow throughout the New Orleans community last October, defendant Joseph Washington has pleaded guilty to three counts of 1st Degree Murder and one count of Obstruction of Justice.

The expedited resolution of this horrific case comes after extensive investigations by the New Orleans Police Department and New Orleans Fire Department and meticulous preparation by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Homicide Unit led by Chief Matthew Derbes and Homicide ADA Denisse Parrales.

Chief Matthew Derbes of the Homicide Unit expressed gratitude to the NOPD, NOFD, and the trial team for their unwavering teamwork in preparing the case for success at trial. “The collaborative efforts of the New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans Fire Department, and our trial team were instrumental in bringing this case to resolution,” said Chief Derbes.

District Attorney Jason Williams commended Chief Derbes and his team for their exemplary work in navigating a case that was gut-wrenching for everyone involved. “Chief Derbes demonstrated exceptional leadership in bringing together all sources of evidence in this horrific and tragic case,” said District Attorney Williams.

The decision to accept the plea agreement was made in consultation with the family of the three young children lost in this unspeakable tragedy. It spares them the trauma of dealing with a drawn-out proceeding with grueling details of the agony of their loved ones and avoids the emotional strain of enduring a lengthy trial and multiple appeals. “This decision was made in the explicit interests of some modicum of closure for the family of 8-year-old Joseph Washington, 5-year-old Jayla Washington, and 3-year-old Avery Washington. Denisse Parrales expressed, that the defendant’s guilty plea provides closure for the family and for our community. But there is no true solace for the immeasurable loss of innocent lives.”

“We pray that the swift resolution in this case can begin to bring some semblance of life back to this grieving family after they had life as they knew it ripped away by a truly evil act,” added District Attorney Williams.

Following Joseph Washington’s plea, one defendant Shanyka Phillips will also be prosecuted and held to account for her role in supporting Washington following his murder of his children. Last month, OPDA Homicide Unit ADA Denisse Parrales, secured indictments of Phillips for Accessory after the Fact to 1st Degree Murder and Accessory after the Fact Aggravated Arson from an Orleans Parish Grand Jury. These charges stem from Phillips’ acts to aid and assist Joseph Washington’s evasion of law enforcement in the wake of burning down a home he knew to be occupied by these three children.

Sentencing for Joseph Washington is scheduled in Section G before Judge Nandi Campbell on April 20, 2024.